Arts

Arts Q&A: Belfast singer Ciara Mackey on Nile Rodgers, Jimi Hendrix and James Joyce

Ciara Mackey will take to the pantomime stage this Christmas playing the role of the Maid Marian in the family favourite Robin Hood at The Helix in Dublin

1. When did you think about a career in performing and what were your first steps into it? I was a full-time doctor until a few months ago. I've taken a bit of a career break to sing, act, and generally enjoy life a wee bit. I have been singing in bands for several years now – it was always a handy way to make money while in medical school – and have been heavily involved in theatre from a very young age. I was lucky enough to appear on Michael McIntyre's Big Show on BBC One last Christmas, and since then have had several professional performing jobs and have signed with an agency, Nova Artists.

2. Best gigs you've been to? Prince in Dublin in 2011. I'm so thankful I got to see him perform before he died. Nile Rodgers &Chic in Ormeau Park this summer were just jaw-dropping. I've recently joined a new disco/soul band called the Groove Line, which is co-managed by Ralph Rolle who is the drummer from Chic. I auditioned for him, which was intimidating enough, and then he invited us to see the band. And the first time I saw cabaret artist Camille O'Sullivan, I was really blown away.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band? It would have to be Chic, or Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – a hip-hop brass band from the Chicago.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island? Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced.

5. And the book? James Joyce's Ulysses. I've tried and failed to read it about 10 times now, so at least I would have absolutely no excuse.

6. Top three films? Whiplash – I first watched it one night when I couldn't sleep, which was a dreadful idea as I was then awake all night as it's unbelievably tense; Calamity Jane – I used to watch it with my Nana; Monty Python's The Life of Brian. Why? Shut up, Big Nose.

7. Worst film you've seen? High Rise with Tom Hiddleston.

8. Favourite authors? Bill Bryson, Sebastian Faulks and the best book I've read recently was Adam Kay's This is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor. I recognised so much of my own experiences in it.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? I do run regularly to clear my head. An athlete I really admire is Ciara Mageean, a determined competitor and a great example to young people in Ireland.

10. Ideal holiday destination? Cuba is definitely next on my list.

11. Pet hate?

Littering. I WILL tap you on the shoulder and hand it back to you.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Fillet steak, medium.

Dessert? Rich chocolate cake.

Drink? Tea.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? I have two. I met Ciara Lee on the first day of medical school in Queen's. I kept hearing about “the other Ciara from Dublin”, and I bumped into her in the Student's Union, realised who she was, and asked her to go for a pint. We were joined that evening by a girl named Siobhan, and the three of us pretty much became best friends instantly.

14. Is there a God? Probably not. Just be nice.

:: Ciara will be starring as Maid Marian in Robin Hood at The Helix, Dublin, until January 20. See Thehelix.ie

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